Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Star Trek Dress!

Woo!  Star Trek was amazing!!!  And... I'm going to leave it at that, because if I start saying more I'm going to start giving away spoilers.

I will say, though, that Benedict Cumberbatch is welcome to come read anything to me, at any time.  Damn.  Can't wait for the next season of Sherlock to come out (in January...).  So yummy.  He rivals Alan Rickman for voice (and looks), and that's not something I ever really thought I'd say.  Wow.

Anyway, on to the dress!


This first image (above) is not mine - I found it while doing research on the female dress Starfleet uniform from the 2009 movie (click for a link to the original website).  But you can see how many pieces there are - a LOT.  If I had done it correctly, the finished garment would have 29 pieces.  I had to add a panel, so mine actually has 33 (it cut another panel in two, and added two other panels in order to make the new seams look like they belonged there).  I'll get to that in a minute.

Because of the very precise nature of the pieces and seams in this dress, there was little room for error.  I made a test dress out of a thin knit fabric I owned, which helped some, but when I switched to the jumbo spandex, which is a lot heavier, the fit was still wrong (hence the extra panel).  Jumbo spandex is the same material they use in the movies.  I just bought a royal blue piece, as I didn't have the time to do a custom dye and screen printing job, though I was tempted.  If I had a couple more months I might have looked into it.  Part of me is sad that it isn't the right color and pattern, because it just doesn't look quite the same.  It's pretty close, though.


Alright!  So, above you can see my pattern pieces that I made.  I had cut out the entire shape of the dress, then cut that piece into the individual panels, and then retraced those panels with seam allowances added in and cut those out into the pieces you see above.  The leftmost piece is the extra panel I added into the back of the dress, which I then extended the seams going upwards towards the armpits so that it wouldn't look out of place (this will make more sense when you see the picture of the dress below).  The raglan sleeves (sleeves with the diagonal connection across the upper torso from neck to armpit) were hard - never done those before.  They also have to be very precise, or else the dress won't hit correctly under the bust.  I had to redo the sleeves three times before I finally liked how they turned out, and even then I had to put more of a dart into the top of the shoulder than I wanted to.  Also, I completely spaced on under-bust darts, and they aren't in my dress.  The material stretches, so I don't really see this as a problem.  


Front of the dress!  As you can see, the raglan sleeve connections have the funky added seams to them.  This is created by having extra pieces sewn to the right side of the pieces, then flipping them up and around and sewing them together to make the seam, leaving the extra seam-binding exposed.  Jumbo spandex is shiny on one side, and the exposed seam binding is just the wrong side of the fabric - you can see that the inside of the dress is also shiny.  The neck and arm holes are also bound in a similar fashion, but with only one piece per binding.  I learned how to do a proper V-neck binding when making this dress (scroll down to Drawing 5).  The neck binding wasn't hard - I used my regular technique when binding knits of making the binding be about 3/4 of the length of the opening so that it tightens and doesn't bubble up.  But the sleeve bindings were really tricky, because they aren't tight to the arm if you look at pictures from the movie.  I ended up doing the binding three times before I was happy with it, and essentially the binding was almost exactly the size of the arm opening - about an inch tighter on a 14 inch circumference.  


Back of the dress!  You can see the extra panel I added into the middle of the bottom half.  Because the jumbo spandex was so much heavier than the other knit I had used for my test dress, it was unusable before putting in this panel - waaaaay too tight.  At this point I did not have enough fabric left to re-cut new center panels that were wider, which is what I would've done if I had the fabric.  I did order more fabric than I needed to, but I used it up already because I actually had to cut out the entire dress twice - I cut it out the first time with the stretch going in the wrong direction, and it mattered.  Now I know how to cut these out in the future.  Without enough fabric to re-cut panels, I either had to pay another $24 to get another yard of fabric ($12 shipping... overpriced *angry mutters*) and risk not being able to finish the dress on time, or improvise.  In order to make it look like it belonged, I cut the center panel in half and added another panel in the middle, curving the seam up near the top to fit the look.  Then I continued those seams on the top half of the dress up to the armpit.  I think it looks quite nice, and I highly doubt anyone who wasn't a costume designer would see the difference at all.  Adding the extra panel made this dress just big enough to fit.  I wish I could've put a couple more inches in it even from this, but the fit isn't bad now.  (And this is yet another incentive to keep my current figure, because I don't want to grow out of this dress!)

Oh, and all of the seams that are bound with the shiny fabric have two decorative lines of stitching on either side of them.  Gah.  I tried to use a twin needle, but it was bunching up the fabric really badly, so I ended up just doing a straight stitch on them.  On the more up-and-down seams it doesn't matter at all, because the stretch is horizontal, but I've already have had a couple of them break where the seams curve to be horizontal as I've been pulling the dress on and off.  Oh well.  That's pretty easy to fix, if I want to get anal and go back and tack it down. 




Voila!  Dress!  The pin is an all-metal pin that I bought online - it's really nice.  It's the pin for science and medical.  Oh, and I went with blue for science and medical because I felt that was a lot closer to what I am as a biomedical engineering researcher than I am to a Starfleet engineer, which seems to be more electrical/mechanical engineering (based mostly on Scotty... could be broader and I don't know it because I haven't seen enough of the original show yet).  Also, it doesn't have the 'red shirts' connotation, haha.  And while I don't like either red or blue much, I like royal blue better than fire-engine red.  But I mostly went with it because I view myself mostly in science/medical professionally.  Though, really, I wouldn't be a member of Starfleet if we were in Star Trek times - I can't imagine myself going on five year missions away from my home planet.  I'm too much of a hobbit for that.

I also made the black knit shift dress and the black leggings.  This dress is so short I can't sit down without most of my butt touching the chair - no way was I wearing that without leggings.  I have no idea how this is a uniform (yeah, yeah, sex appeal of television...).  The 2009 movie uniforms technically have a charcoal grey undershirt/dress in cotton lycra, but I couldn't find it.  I found heather grey and black, and several friends agreed with me that black would be a better fit.

And because one of my favorite bloggers, Cation Designs, uses this summary, I'm going to steal it from her.

Summary:
Pattern: Made it myself, based on sketches online.
Fabric: In the final dress, about 1.5 yards of royal blue jumbo spandex, two yards to black cotton lycra (very thin bolt), and 1.5 yards of black thin knit (leggings).
Notions: 2 spools of thread (probably only needed one, but I bought two to use with the twin needle that I ended up ditching).
Hours: Guh... a lot.  At least 30.
Will you make it again?  There is a tiny part of peeping that it could be more accurate, and I could do a custom dye job and learn how to screen print and then re-make it with really accurate fabric and then also adjust the fit so that it would be exact and perfect... but in all likelihood, I will probably not make another one of these.  Maybe if my body changes a ton after pregnancy someday and I really want another dress that really fits, I'll do it.  But probably not.  This one is pretty awesome, and I don't think I need more than one Starfleet uniform.
How accurate is it?  A hell of a lot more accurate than anything you can buy online.  With the exception of the extra panel in the back, it's as close to accurate in the stitching as I can make it without examining a real outfit from the movie up close.  The fabric choices are off in color, but correct in material type, so agian it's as accurate I can make it without spending a lot more time and money on it.
Total cost:  Thread was $5, black knit was about $20, the jumbo spandex was about $50, and the thin black knit for the leggings I bought a long time ago but was probably $5 or so.  About $80, all told.
Final thoughts:  This dress was more expensive and harder to make than I had any idea it would be when I started on the path to making it, but I'm pretty happy with it.  People who've seen it in person seem to like it.  I'm happy to have a really nerdy dress that I can wear to conventions (assuming I make it to one one of these years they don't overlap with a beloved SCA event) and movies and just to be super nerdy.

Wow, this post got longer than I thought it would.  But this dress was the hardest thing I've ever sewn, so I suppose that makes sense.  Hope you enjoyed it!

~Kelly
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hi!

I promise I've been working on cool things!  My Star Trek Starfleet uniform dress was finished on Monday, and that's most of what I've been working on the last couple weeks.  It is the hardest thing I've ever made, and I will get some pictures this Friday when I go see the movie and then put up info on how I made it!

Other random projects: 

Started making an inkle weave based on the Purple Fret - I've had a lot of fun looking to Middle Kingdom awards for inspiration.  I've already made one based on the Cavendish Knot and one that's Midrealm-based.  I promise I will soon take photos of the weaving I've done and post them!  Need to start taking pictures before I give too many more of them away.

Also started work on the leather book I'm making as a memory book of DeForest and me again.  Haven't worked on that in a few months.  The cover is almost finished.  One of the biggest problems I'm having at the moment is that I didn't use the same treatment on the cover as I did on the pieces I cut out for the inside flaps, and the dye didn't take the same way.  Galen told me that could happen, and it did (now I know for future projects to cut out *all* the pieces and soak them the same way, even if all of them aren't being tooled).  I'm trying to figure out if I want to try and soak another piece of leather for a month, or if I just want to use the pieces that don't quite match.  I'd have to cut it out of a different hide, so it might have a different color anyway, even if I go through all the work, and that's a fair bit of leather I could use for something else.  But this is also a very beautiful project, and I want it to look good.  Maybe I just need to dye it a completely different color - green or something - so that it won't matter if it matches, because I don't think I'll be able to get it to match now.  Hmm, thoughts.

Grief is hard.  In general I know it keeps getting better - I keep reminding myself that these days are so much better than the days were a few months ago, and that continues to be true.  But days when it doesn't hurt much are still few and far between, and while the ache isn't a stabbing pain anymore (usually), it's often still there and still hurts and everything is still harder.  On the other hand, I now have been living at home for four weeks, and I've only spent one night away in that time, so more evidence of progress.  Still hate waking up at 4-5 am for my mid-sleep bathroom break and having him not be here, and then waking up later and knowing that he's not out sitting in the living room or on the front stoop, reading a book or working on our D&D game.  The rollercoaster is hard, too.  How I think I'm doing fine, but then ten minutes later I'm crying because some random thought of him popped into my head and it was too much and I couldn't stop it.  That's not to say that every time I think of him I cry - I don't.  I can think of him and smile or laugh, too, or just note it and keep going with my day.  Just... 

I'm rambling, and I need to pack up and go to lab so I can get my experiment set up before our lab meeting. The Star Trek dress is fabulous and I'm excited to see the movie (and go to my first movie in theaters since seeing The Avengers with Arnolde last summer... I knew a couple months ago that I was excited about this movie to go, and I set myself the goal that this was worth facing that, so I'm also slightly nervous/aching but mostly excited).  I'm doing fabulous inkle weaves, and I'm looking forward to checking out the looms for sale at Pennsic to see if they have ones that are worth the price of buying or if I should just suck it up and make one myself (woodworking isn't my favorite thing).

Gah, I'm still rambling and still need to leave.  Ttfn!  ~Kelly
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